Perseverance is a valuable asset

Lately I have been trying to teach my eight-year-old Daughter, Rhyley, some life lessons.

Being that I have a complicated brain and lofty goals, I am likely starting way too early on things like real estate purchases, career choices, and the right investment strategies. I get a lot of eye rolling and then I try to tone it down a bit.

With Rhyley getting into the odd competition lately, one thing that has surprised me is my advice that winning isn’t as important as persevering. I have always wanted to win, and sacrificed a lot in trying to achieve that, so when advice against what I thought I believed pops out of my mouth, I have to take a moment and check my thoughts.

Then I realize I mean what I say. It’s not necessarily the victory, but the battle to get there that’s important.

I remember, years ago, coaching a friend in a gruelling, 65-km mountain bike race. She had never done anything like this and honestly had no chance of winning, and only a small chance of finishing. I knew she was in over her head and on top of coaching her for fitness and bike skills, we worked on willpower, the desire to push through pain, and setting goals.

I also had another friend doing the same race. He was a pro racer who had a legitimate chance at winning the race.

At the half way point in the race, just before a climb named “bonk hill,” she passed the aid station and was already fading. Clearly fatigued, showing signs of dehydration, and looking to be in serious trouble, she rode by and faked a smile, but continued on … and up.

I never saw my pro buddy go by and assumed he had been in the lead pack.

At the last aid station, five km’s from the finish, I was the lone spectator. The aid staff had packed up and the race was all but done. Then she came around the corner. The sweep rider, looking very bored behind her, informed me he was done and she had to be pulled from the race, but she argued and pushed on. She finished, in what some people would say was last place, five hours after the winner.

She was smoked and as she sat, exhausted, with this stupid, “holy crap I actually did it” smile on her face, cramming down as much food as possible, I saw my pro buddy and asked how it went.

He told me that 25 km’s in he got a cramp and decided to quit since a win was questionable at that point.

Sure she finished last, but she beat a pro who had no willpower and no ability to fight through even a bit of pain. I ask you which is worse, finishing last, or quitting because it didn’t go perfectly?

So when I’m teaching Rhyley life lessons, I think we’ll work on perseverance, will power, and the ability to overcome some challenges. It sounds weird when I say it, but I think I’d rather overcome huge obstacles to finish mid pack, than get an easy win.

I’m James Durand and I’m Going’ Ridin’…

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